And it was so pleasant over in St. Paul. Tim Nelson of MPR writes: “Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak got a warm reception when he pitched a Vikings stadium plan at the Capitol on Tuesday, but received a chilly homecoming when he presented the plan to the Minneapolis City Council Thursday morning. Rybak explained to a City Council committee that Target Center is really behind his bid to keep the Vikings at the Metrodome site. ‘The single-largest driver that can lower property taxes significantly in this city, besides obviously our spending and local government aid, is getting Target Center off of our property tax rolls,’ he said. It’s a complicated financial formula that links the arena and the stadium. Sales, bar, restaurant and hotel taxes bring in about $50 million a year for Minneapolis. Most of that — about $30 million — is pledged to pay off the mortgage for the city’s convention center through 2020. … Rybak said help for the arena would save Minneapolis property tax payers about $5 million a year, the equivalent of a 2 percent property tax increase. … But the whole idea left a bitter taste in some city council member’s mouths. ‘I just think that’s crazy,’ said council member Lisa Goodman. She told Rybak that hospitality taxes are onerous enough without turning them over to professional sports teams. She said her downtown neighbors effectively pay tourist rates in their own neighborhood because of restaurant and bar taxes in the central business district.”
The always-chilling CYA effect has descended on the state Arts Board, according to a story by the Strib’s Graydon Royce: “If you don’t cross every t and dot every i, you can kiss your cultural Legacy Amendment money goodbye. More than a dozen Twin Cities groups that received Legacy Amendment-funded grants through the Minnesota State Arts Board in past years were stunned this year to find their applications rejected on what some say are technicalities. That means Zenon Dance Company will not be able to tour outstate Minnesota, the Loft Literary Center will not get money for a program that served writers who have disabilities and Mixed Blood Theatre will shelve a $100,000 project aimed at improving access for audiences. The Guthrie Theater, Ordway Center, Intermedia Arts, VSA Minnesota and the Center for Book Arts are among those whose applications were ruled incomplete. The Arts Board’s more exacting approach comes in a charged political atmosphere that is focusing greater scrutiny on state funds intended for the arts. … Sue Gens, the board’s executive director, said the review process always has been rigorous, but admits that the atmosphere has changed. ‘Especially in light of the recent office of the legislative auditor’s report on Legacy funding, one person’s technicality is another person’s accountability,’ Gens said. ‘We’re not a private foundation where we can say, ‘You’re right, that’s a good reason, go ahead and send something in late.’ “
Well, someone had to stand against The War on Soda Pop. Veteran Republican Annette Meeks, in a Strib commentary, submits: “As one of the Americans who “love carbonated soft drinks,” I must respond to Roger Feldman’s argument that government should impose an even higher tax on soft drinks (“The Case for Taxing Soda Pop,” Dec. 4). Make no mistake about it: Obesity is a serious public health problem. I understand the implications of an overweight society for our American health care system as well as for each of us personally. But while Feldman makes several interesting arguments regarding government’s subsidization of agricultural products, he misses the mark when he suggests that a soda tax will curb obesity in Minnesota. … my ultimate objection to a soda tax is simple: We don’t need government to make our food and beverage decisions for us. Anyone who has ever tried to shed excess pounds can tell you one hard and fast rule of weight loss. It’s all about how many calories you consume, not where they come from. … A new tax won’t teach Minnesotans to live healthy lifestyles or change their behavior. Obesity is a complex and serious problem that requires thoughtful and comprehensive solutions. Targeting one product in the grocery cart while adding a bigger tax burden to the hard-working people of Minnesota is not the way to do it.” We’ll assume Ms. Meeks is just as opposed to the anti-soda/healthier diet messaging the tax would buy.
Is everyone with a string section in expansion/renovation mode? Chris Hewitt of the PiPress reports: “If the announced concert hall at the Ordway is, as St. Paul Chamber Orchestra president Sarah Lutman has called it, a wooden bento box, think of the audience as the rice and the SPCO as a very nice piece of salmon nestled inside the box. The 1,100-seat hall, plans for which were unveiled at a press conference Thursday, replaces the under-used McKnight Theatre, which has been the home of theatrical productions such as ‘Grey Gardens.’ When it opens — if all goes as planned, in the spring of 2014 — it will be the new home of the SPCO. It will feature a design in which the audience surrounds the orchestra, and both audience and orchestra are wrapped in honey-colored wood that includes an enormous, curvy, wooden ‘ribbon’ that extends from the back of the hall over the audience. Efforts to raise $75 million for the project continue, with $51.75 million already raised from public, corporate and private sources, including a $3 million commitment from the city of St. Paul and $16 million in bonding funds from the state.”
Felled by romaine lettuce. Mike Hughlett of the Strib reports: “At least two Minnesotans, including one who had to be hospitalized, are among 60 people nationwide sickened in an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. The illnesses were reported in 10 states, but were concentrated in Missouri, where 37 people got sick from E. coli O157:H7. Thirty people were hospitalized nationwide and two developed kidney failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No deaths have been reported. In Minnesota, one victim was hospitalized for a few days, but did not have kidney failure, said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health. While the CDC said a third Minnesotan was sickened in the same outbreak, the state hasn’t confirmed that. The outbreak began Oct. 10, and appears to be over.” That’s why I stick to cheap beer and Slim Jims.
Someone call the Archdiocese. Julie Forster of the PiPress reports: “Thirteen Minnesota companies achieved the highest rating for employers whose policies and practices are most friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, based on a widely regarded measure of corporate culture. Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation released its in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers today. The index, first put in place in 2002, has gained credibility as employers, trying to attract and retain the best talent, find they need to show their benefits and policies are inclusive to all. In Minnesota, 32 companies were rated in the 2012 Corporate Equality Index report and 13 received a 100 percent index rating. Those companies are: 3M Co.; Ameriprise Financial; Best Buy; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota; Cargill; Dorsey & Whitney; Faegre & Benson; General Mills; Medtronic; Robins, Kaplan and Ciresi; Supervalu; U.S. Bancorp, and UnitedHealth Group. There were 190 companies across the country that made the top rating.”
So now where do we go for happy hour? Frederick Melo of the PiPress reports: “St. Paul will close a hookah lounge on University Avenue and suspend a VFW bar on Concordia Avenue for five days for code infractions. The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday revoked the business license for the Iftiin Hookah Lounge at 2418 W. University Ave. The lounge has been owned by Axmed S. Cali, 34, of Minneapolis since the summer of 2009, and Cali has frequently appeared before the council for license violations. A hookah waterpipe is a kind of tobacco pipe common to some parts of Africa and the Middle East.” Thank you for that.
Today in Bachmannia: David Brody at the Christian Broadcast Network gets scoop points for breaking the story that Our Gal will not, repeat not, be attending Donald Trump’s debate in Iowa on the 27th. Says Brody: “Bachmann is mightily busy in Iowa where she must pull off a top three finish to remain viable. The Brody File has said that Bachmann’s organizational strength among pastors and homeschoolers gives her the real shot at doing very well in Iowa. In addition, some new polling by Public Policy Polling shows her picking up steam. Herman Cain’s exit from the race has helped her so anyone counting her out would be making a big mistake. Plus, don’t forget more than 60 percent of Iowa voters haven’t decided who they’re voting for yet. With voters feeling lukewarm toward Romney and with Newt Gingrich’s tendency to shoot himself in the foot, Bachmann merrily travels around the country positioning herself as the real conservative in the race.” Hmmmm. I think I know who’s exchanging Christmas cards this year.
Dean Pagani of something called Governors Journal (“All Governors, All the Time”) interviews reliably skeptical Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Dan Bice on the state of the recall against Gov. Scott Walker. A couple (distilled) samples from the Q&A:
Will organizers be able to garner the signatures they need?
A: The answer appears to be yes. According to Bice, even Democrats and union leaders are surprised they have been able to collect more than 300,000 signatures in less than a month. The signatures gathered to date were mostly collected using the shotgun method of approaching people on the streets and in shopping malls. As Bice puts it, organizers haven’t even begun to send canvassers to targeted areas where they no there is bad will toward Walker.
Can Walker survive?
A: As of today, the answer is yes. First, anti-Walker forces have not succeeded in forcing an election. Second, no strong Democratic challenger has emerged. Walker is on the air defending his record and defining the terms of the debate and with unlimited resources, he will likely stay on the air until the election, if there is one. Walker is better able to deliver a consistent message. His opponents are more fractured. A backlash against outsiders taking over the Wisconsin political debate could help the Walker team. Walker is the sitting governor and in the history of this country very few governors have ever been recalled.”